Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell do it again, Rampage rampages into the MEM, Chris Sabin cuts the promo of a lifetime, Battlebowl, and more!
By Will Pruett
A couple months ago, I used this space to discuss the Knockouts. I called them the most well-developed characters in TNA and described the awesome and unique role each woman is playing. I talked about how they seem to have a great combination of characters and wrestling talent, including veterans and relatively new acts. I want to use this space once again to reiterate this.
Woman's wrestling seemed to hit a wall recently. In WWE we see every heel suddenly become Regina George in Mean Girls, while TNA was producing some unmotivated matches with Velvet Sky stumbling through championship opportunities. Stories were not being put together. I found myself hitting the fast-forward button when they were on screen. This is something I actually found quite sad.
TNA changed this a few months ago by introducing (and re-engaging with) some new and different characters in their division. Chief among them was Taryn Terrell, the scantily clad referee turned wrestler, who decided it was time to make some changes. She was pushed to the breaking point by the division's (then) lead antagonist, Gail Kim. This story worked in Calgary. It worked countless times in WWE. It even worked (to an extent) in TNA many years ago. It's a classic, even though we haven't seen it done with women before.
Around the time Terrell started breaking out of her shell, Mickie James rediscovered her passion. It isn't just this character making Mickie James exciting again, it is the excitement James is showing to play it. As a heel, I'm sure Mickie is having a great time. She's a natural antagonist and has taken the mantle of lead heel away from another great talent.
Said talent is Gail Kim, who, while not the lead heel, is a dynamic heel an a cornerstone of the Knockouts roster. Without Kim, TNA would be lost in the world of woman's wrestling. She anchored them through the growing pains of the division and has delivered a compelling and fun character to watch since her return. Kim brings a certain credibility to any match she is in and her willingness to put her body on the line, combined with her wrestling skill has made her one of the best woman's wrestlers in the world today.
There are certainly other sideline-dwelling characters in this division right now, and I have no doubt in their future development should they decide to step out of the shadows. Compare this to WWE, who has produced nondescript eye candy for years with only one story to guide them. Every Diva's feud since late 2009 has seemingly been about the heel calling the babyface fat or ugly. The babyfaces usually cry and are embarrassed. Instead of fighting with pride and participating in athletic contests, they act like their egos are as fragile as a 14 year old girl's.
TNA is producing women fans want to cheer or boo. They're producing women fans actually want to see on the screen and live in the arena. You can't convince me anyone was headed to the bathroom during the very physical Ladder Match between Kim and Terrell on this show. It wasn't the physicality or the gimmick match though, it was the characters. Terrell is fun to watch. Kim is fun to watch. People want to see these women wrestle.
The Knockout's division is having a fantastic resurgence right now. It's fun to watch. My only real complaint: given the work Kim and Terrell did, their Ladder Match should have been in the main event.
- Pretty soon there will only be two theme songs in all of TNA: the Aces and Eights theme and the Main Event Mafia theme. I heard far too much of both on this show.
- The tease of another new MEM member was a fine way to open the show. This really was an eventful show.
- Bully Ray writing off Chris Sabin is going to pay off extremely well next week when Sabin almost beats him. I'm excited to see the near falls in this match. Remember last year with Bobby Roode and Austin Aries. Anything can happen in TNA and while I expect a Bully victory, it isn't guaranteed.
- The Battlebowl Joker's Wild concept works fine for a random episode of Impact. The logic of it fitting into the BFGS also works for me. Some people don't like the opportunity for large amounts of additional points, but it allows TNA to change the series on a dime. These opportunities create very good stories.
- I would have like to see some tension between Joseph Park and Jeff Hardy as a team. Shouldn't Hardy be nervous based on what Park did to a referee last week?
- Is fat depressed A.J. Styles starting to wear thin on anyone else? This is like trying to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The protagonist in his story is insufferable.
- One great point made by my colleague Chris Shore in his live coverage is how bad the BFGS makes main event talent look when they're beat in under five minutes. It's been a consistent problem since the inception of the series. TNA needs to find a way to rectify the issue.
- Jay Bradley seems like a guy pretending to be a wrestler in his living room. He looks bush-league never quite commits enough. I'm not a fan of the guy.
- It's hard to buy into the randomness of pairings when Magnus is paired with Mr. Anderson and Bad Influence ends up in the same match as Roode and Aries. Some creative license should be given, but it is hard to suspend disbelief at times.
- Christopher Daniels and Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode and Kazarian was fun to watch. It had the right mix of comedy and seriousness. Bad Influence proved to be more of a team than Roode and Aries, which is common. I also enjoyed the subtle way this should build to the Kazarian vs. Daniels match in the BFGS.
- Brooke Hogan's aversion when Bully Ray was mentioned by her father worked for me. I'm interested in this story, especially with her real-life engagement worked in.
- Mickie James would have killed it on commentary for the Knockouts match. I'm sad about her not being used in this way.
- Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell maintained the physicality of their Slammiversary match, but they didn't quite top the match quality. I enjoyed the Ladder Match quite a bit (it was still the best thing on this show), but it didn't match what they did before. Terrell and Kim have elevated their game to a really intense level. I hope we see a rubber match between them.
- Gail Kim vs. Mickie James should be an interesting heel vs. heel matchup. Is it possible Kim will actually turn babyface due to the acclaim for her series with Terrell? This would be a mistake. Kim is much more compelling as a heel.
- Seriously though, there is no reason Kim vs. Terrell wasn't the last item on this show. They deserved the main event slot and they would have delivered a compelling story and (I'm guessing) some decent ratings.
- TNA's Gauntlet Matches rarely excite me. This six-man "Battlebowl without the ring" scenario didn't really get me going either. I understand the idea and I don't mind bonus points in the BFGS, but it never clicked for me.
- This show suffered from having three main event-type segments in the second hour. It felt like the third Lord of the Rings movie because it just wouldn't end.
- Magnus now has a really high point total. I'm enjoying Magnus as the early front-runner. As I said last week, Magnus would be a very compelling choice to pick up the win and the title at Bound for Glory.
- The final segment of this show included an absolutely brilliant exchange between Chris Sabin and Bully Ray. Bully antagonized Sabin perfectly and Sabin responded with one of the more passionate and heartfelt promos I have ever heard. Sabin looked great stepping up to the Bully.
- The fifth MEM member reveal was a little weird. It didn't seem totally necessary for this show, but I get why is was there.
- Rampage Jackson in the Mafia will be interesting. Will he be around all the time? Will he be a real part of he group? I'm curious to see what the idea is with Rampage joining a faction.
- I really wish Jackson would have shown up in a suit. I know the chain and t-shirt is his thing, but it seemed out of place with the rest of the MEM. If Jackson is a part of the group, he should dress like it.
This show was good, but not great. It couldn't match the highs of last week's effort and the crowd even seemed a little down watching it. I enjoyed the stories told here and I believe TNA has some great stuff in store soon. I'm into the current product, which I didn't think could happen after the last set of tapings was so bad.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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